India Fight Back

An inspiring fight back by India, led by their Captain Anil Kumble, has left honours just about even at stumps on day one, with Australia completing the day at 337-9.

The machinations of the Australia team were not announced until just before the start of play, with the news that the home team had resisted the temptation to unleash an all pace attack, and had made speedster Shaun Tait 12th man.

India also showed some faith in spin selecting the mercurial Harbhajan Singh, this appeared to leave Team India a seamer short, on what looked a good batting pitch.

Ricky Ponting won the toss and chose to bat on a pitch that was expected to settle down into a good batting deck after the first session, which was expected to favour seam.

A crowd of 70,000+ was treated to the rare site of two left armers bowling to two left handed batsman. Zaheer Khan and RP Singh bowled a great length early, beating the bat on a number of occasions. Unfortunately for the visitors they bowled without luck, and Australia went to lunch at Nelson 111-0.

After the break, with both batsmen looking well set, and the Indian fielding looking distinctly amateur, a huge score seemed to be in the offing. Enter Kumble who bowled with great control and not a little brains, to entice Phil Jaques down the pitch to be cleanly stumped by MS Dhoni for an entertaining 66 (135-1).

Shortly after Zaheer Khan produced the ball of the day to clean bowl the in form Australian captain for 4 (162-2), and then that man Kumble trapped the Bradmanesque Mike Hussey LBW for 2 (165-3).

India then seemed to make a tactical mistake, conceding runs to Matthew Hayden who proceeded to bring up an almost faultless ton, (one very tough chance) and attacking a very circumspect Michael Clark, until the latter chased a wide ball from RP Singh and was well caught in the slips by VVS Laxman for 20 off 60 balls (225-4).

When Hayden fell to Khan for 124 (his fifth ton in six Tests at the MCG), the Aussies were suddenly in trouble at 241-5.The next partnership between the big hitters Adam Gilchrist and Andrew Symonds now assumed tremendous importance.

Just when it appeared the batsmen were taking control Kumble dismissed both and Australia plunged to 288-7. Some lusty hitting by the tailenders took Australia to 337-9 at stumps.

Later Kumble rated his 5-84 one of his very best ever performances, unfortunately disingenuous comments by Matthew Hayden at the post match press conference took a little joy out of what was a truly great effort.

Australia First Innings 337-9
Matthew Hayden 124, Phil Jaques 66

Anil Kumble 5-84, Zaheer Khan 4-94

Leave a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they have been approved

More articles by Archie Mac